Sensitivity of billing claims for cardiovascular disease events among kidney transplant recipients

Krista L. Lentine, Mark A. Schnitzler, Kevin C. Abbott, Kosha Bramesfeld, Paula M. Buchanan, Daniel C. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Billing claims are increasingly examined beyond administrative functions as outcomes measures in observational research. Few studies have described the performance of billing claims as surrogate measures of clinical events among kidney transplant recipients. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: We investigated the sensitivity of Medicare billing claims for clinically verified cardiovascular diagnoses (five categories) and procedures (four categories) in a novel database linking Medicare claims to electronic medical records of one transplant program. Cardiovascular events identified in medical records for 571 Medicare-insured transplant recipients in 1991 through 2002 served as reference measures. Results: Within a claims-ascertainment period spanning ±30 d of clinically recorded dates, aggregate sensitivity of single claims was higher for case definitions incorporating Medicare Parts A and B for diagnoses and procedures (90.9%) compared with either Part A (82.3%) or Part B (84.6%) alone. Perfect capture of the four procedures was possible within ±30 d or with short claims window expansion, but sensitivity for the diagnoses trended lower with all study algorithms (91.2% with window up to ±90 d). Requirement for additional confirmatory diagnosis claims did not appreciably reduce sensitivity. Sensitivity patterns were similar in the early compared with late periods of the study. Conclusions: Combined use of Medicare Parts A and B billing claims composes a sensitive measure of cardiovascular events after kidney transplant. Further research is needed to define algorithms that maximize specificity as well as sensitivity of claims from Medicare and other insurers as research measures in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1221
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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